Deli Cold Cuts at Home: Basic Roasted Turkey Breast

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Christina Ross
Christina Ross
I'm a human being on planet earth. I've lived hundreds of lifetimes. In this incarnation I'm here to advance medicine.

Cold cuts are an American lunch staple, but unfortunately most of the deli offerings contain nitrates and/or nitrites. These preservatives are added to keep the meat from drying out, but it is generally thought that they could be detrimental to our health. Hence why cold cuts are on the list of foods to avoid while pregnant (though everyone should be cautious about eating too much).

Deli Cold Cuts at Home: Basic Roasted Turkey Breast

Lily loves the Applegate Organic Roasted Turkey Breast – which is free of antibiotics, nitrates, and nitrites – so I thought I’d try my hand at making my own version.

I bought an organic skin-on boneless turkey breast from Whole Foods, seasoned it simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted it until done. Roasting with the skin on ensures that the meat stays nice and juicy, but I prefer to remove the skin before eating.

Deli Cold Cuts at Home: Basic Roasted Turkey Breast

I did have a little bit of difficulty slicing the meat super thinly, but I assume the only way to replicate the slices from the deli counter is to buy a meat slicer… which I doubt we’re going to invest in.

The turkey is delicious sliced and stacked high in a sandwich or chopped and folded into a yogurt/mayo dressing for a play on chicken salad.

This recipe could also be used on Thanksgiving if you just want enough turkey for a few people.

I’m looking forward to trying various flavor additions, such as maple syrup, herbs, and seasonings.

Deli Cold Cuts at Home: Basic Roasted Turkey Breast
NameDeli Cold Cuts at Home: Basic Roasted Turkey Breast
Prep Time15 minutes
Cooking Time1.5 – 2 hours
Total Time1.75 – 2.25 hours (including resting)
Yield2-3 pounds of roasted turkey breast


  • 1 boneless turkey breast (about 2-3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage


1. Prepare the Turkey Breast

Start by preheating your oven to 325°F (163°C). While the oven is heating up, rinse the turkey breast under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Trimming any excess fat is optional but recommended for a leaner cut.

2. Season the Turkey

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and dried sage. This mixture will be your flavorful seasoning blend.

Rub the olive oil all over the turkey breast, ensuring it’s well-coated. Then, generously sprinkle the seasoning blend over the entire surface of the turkey. Make sure to massage it in to ensure even seasoning.

3. Roast the Turkey

Place the seasoned turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan, with the skin side up. The rack will allow for even cooking and help prevent the meat from sitting in its juices.

Roast the turkey in the preheated oven for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). To check the temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast without touching the bone.

4. Rest and Slice

Once the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. This resting period helps the juices redistribute within the meat, ensuring a moist and tender texture.

After resting, it’s time to slice your homemade deli turkey. Use a sharp knife to carve thin, uniform slices. You can adjust the thickness to your preference, but deli-style cuts are usually quite thin.

5. Enjoy!

Your homemade roasted turkey breast is now ready to enjoy! Serve it in sandwiches with your favorite condiments and veggies, add it to salads, or simply savor it on its own as a healthy snack.

By making your own roasted turkey breast at home, you have control over the ingredients and can create a delicious, preservative-free cold cut that’s perfect for your family. Experiment with different seasonings and spices to customize the flavor to your liking. Once you’ve mastered this basic recipe, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought deli meats again.

Estimated Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories: 120-150 calories per 3-ounce (85g) serving.
  • Protein: 25-30 grams per serving.
  • Fat: 1-2 grams per serving.
  • Carbohydrates: Minimal, less than 1 gram per serving.
  • Fiber: Negligible.
  • Sodium: 300-400 milligrams per serving

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